Bridging the Gap: Students, Teachers and Social Media

Andy Gonzalez
Andy Gonzalez Director of Community Management, Speak Social

Posted on October 5th 2011

We live in a day and age where every social account synchronizes with a smart phone. No one is out of reach. We can engage with anyone at any time. That is why more teachers should embrace the idea of utilizing Social Media to connect with their students and parents. As a society, it is time to accept this idea as well.

 

I understand the push-back; I am a father, too. Anytime a non-parental adult makes themselves available to our children, the sirens go off. I am no way suggesting that the teacher should have unsupervised, all-access to our children. What I am saying is that every time I look over at my 16-year-old, he is looking down at his phone. Our teachers must be where our children are. If our children are on Facebook and Twitter, then our educators should have a presence there as well. If a teacher can send out a tweet to a class full of students, reminding them to finish their research paper, we could be one step closer to better grades. “Finish your homework?” or “Remember: Test tomorrow” … imagine the power of one nighttime tweet!

 

Parents are part of this equation as well. Our children are not the only ones attached at the hip to Social Media. The first thing I do in the morning is open Facebook, check Twitter and respond to messages and @mentions ... then I check my email. I get mobile notifications from every one of my Social channels. I am just as connected as my teenager is. Often times, I feel a bit in the dark about my child's lessons, classwork, test schedules and homework. A teacher-run Facebook group would shed light on these areas, not to mention the parent-to-parent networking power it would provide. We could create and be part of an online mini-community dedicated to the educational advancement of our children. We can be up-to-date and informed on the day-to-day classroom activities, and receive notifications from teachers on all things important.

 

Teachers should be where the students are, they should also be where the parents are; the best places to start are Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Social Media integrates into almost every aspect of our daily lives. We tweet about great food, we take pictures of our children's milestones and post them on Facebook, we blog about positive experiences, and post political rants on YouTube. We have accepted Social Media as a solution to inform others as well as keep us informed. It is time that we let it do just that for our educational system.

 

Andy Gonzalez

Andy Gonzalez

Director of Community Management, Speak Social

Director of Social Strategy for Speak Social (www.speaksocial.net) a social media marketing company in Austin, Texas. Husband, Father, Foodie, Sports Fanatic, Runner, Social Media Ace, Song Writer, Producer, Lyricist, Poet, Instruments...I do it all. Find me here: @AndyViral and facebook.com/AndyDigital

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Comments

Posted on October 5th 2011 at 5:43PM

I so agree with you. This is what I found so disappointing at the school internet safety meeting I attended. here is more on what parents/schools/ educators should be doing to catch up with technology http://flyakite.org/2011/09/29/online-safety/

Posted on October 5th 2011 at 7:40PM

Wow! I never thought about a teacher having a twitter account. Man, if my teachers had twitter accounts when I was in high school.... I would have graduated with honors! But as a parent whose first born is about to start elementary school, I wouldn't mind tweets or status updates about my Kid's classroom and updates from his teacher. That'd be pretty cool and helpful.

Great post, Andy! Really got my gears rolling.

Andy Gonzalez
Posted on October 6th 2011 at 7:42PM

Exactly! You and I see the benefits of such a program and I hope more educators, PTA's and school districts do to. It could really change the game and benefit everyone.

Posted on October 5th 2011 at 11:29PM

I periodically see Facebook status messages from my high-school-aged relatives venting about their frustrations using such educational software as Blackboard or other "acceptable" online communication platforms. Though some administrations like to believe this is a better solution than Facebook (and in some ways, it is), the reality is that students are already on Facebook, a platform with which they are familiar. It's infinitely easier to get their attention with a notification at the top of their Facebook profile than a message to their e-mail.

With Facebook offering the ability to create "secret" and closed groups, parents may be less apprehensive. I definitely agree with the potential advantages of implementing fresh and familiar platforms into a stale educational system. Great post.

Andy Gonzalez
Posted on October 6th 2011 at 7:40PM

Thanks for your comment, Ashley! I do feel the pain of the parent you speak of. My son has an online platform that allows us o log in and check on his grades and attendance. This is great that they are trying to reach out and make our children's educational progress available for our review but it falls short in so many areas. There is no ability for messaging, logging in is difficult and clunk, not to mention that this is a very REACTIVE approach rather than a PROACTIVE approach. What good does it do me as a parent to see a failed test score AFTER my child has failed. I would much rather know that a test is coming and be able to prepare my child for success.

 

Thanks again for taking time to comment on y article. I appreciate it very much.

PJBaker
Posted on October 5th 2011 at 11:38PM
Andy has his pulse on the social media pulse of the nation. Just like the old days of H.F. Hutton, when Andy Gonzalez, I listen. You should too!
Andy Gonzalez
Posted on October 6th 2011 at 7:33PM

Thank you so much, Pam. If someone would just tell my wife to listen when I speak, my world would be sooo much easier. :)

Posted on October 6th 2011 at 1:00AM

Someone has needed to say this for too long. Great blog, great insight into how to improve teacher/parent/student communication. If all parents and teachers cared enough to use this tool to better educate, we'd all be in a lot better shape!

Andy Gonzalez
Posted on October 6th 2011 at 7:32PM

Thanks Brad! It's almost too obvious. Still, I think its time to move forward. I've recently read a few articles about teachers in Canada that are doing this in some way, shape or form. We'll keep a close eye and see how it goes.Have a great day!

Posted on October 6th 2011 at 2:31AM

I agree Andy.  Social media is not something to run from, but when you are communicating to children it is important for us all to use common sense and to think before we type.I appreciate your insight as a father, I am one too and the reality is that social media will be part of my daughters life whether I choose to face that fact or not.

Andy Gonzalez
Posted on October 6th 2011 at 7:30PM

Thanks for your input Adam! I appreciate you taking time out and posting a comment. I agree with you totally!...our children are going to grow up in a VERY different world than we did (or our parents) Social Media will be a huge part of their lives whether we accept it or not. We might as well embrace it, shape it and create its boundaries.

 

 

Posted on October 6th 2011 at 8:18PM

Well said! As an educator who depends on social media, I think you are right on. For example, for their math instruction, my students are using Khan Academy in a multi-age setting where each student is working on different topics. Most of my students keep instant messenger open to let me know when they need help or to ask a question. One student in particular is very into Facebook, so I send all of her assignments through Facebook messages as a reminder. Trust me, she gets them all! And we can both go back and look through the message feed later to see if she missed anything. 

Andy Gonzalez
Posted on October 7th 2011 at 5:25AM

Thank you so much. I was waiting for an educator to write in and tell me if I was right about this type of Social Media integration. The insight into the system that you use is appreciated. Would starting a Facebook group be something that you would be willing to do? Just curious.

 

Hope you have a wonderful day.

Reed Pankratz
Posted on October 7th 2011 at 2:54PM

Andy, fantastic post. I am friends with several teachers who are in their first year of teaching and they have a twitter account and are looking to use it with their high school students, I will be sure to direct them here. Also, as a college student studying marketing and public relations (and one who loves SM), I can say that connecting with professors via twitter has been a good experience for me. I can share things with them for class, follow up on interesting things they share that we don't have in class, and interact with some of their followers. It's a great way to have somewhat of an informal recommendation when looking for a job. Thanks for the post, good job! 

Andy Gonzalez
Posted on October 16th 2011 at 7:33AM

Thanks for the great feedback, Reed! Please do send your teacher friends this way. I'd love to interface with them should they need any help.

 

 

Posted on February 2nd 2012 at 12:35PM
Social media plays a major role in my life too, in fact I would probably fail to get my social work masters degree if it weren't for my colleagues to remind me of exam dates and courses I should insist studying. Anyways, my point is that not everyone is turning to social media only to have fun.